The events of October 29 1967, when Reggie Kray murdered Jack "The Hat" McVitie at a party in Stoke Newington, north-east London, are firmly lodged in British criminal folklore. The hit led to the crime boss’s arrest and the fall of "The Firm", the terrifying 1960s gangland empire he ran with his twin brother Ronnie. What’s less well known is the reason The Hat earned the Krays’ displeasure in the first place. It turns out he’d taken £500 as down payment to murder Reggie and Ronnie’s accountant, didn’t do the job, and failed to return the money. Why did the Krays want their bean counter dead? Well, it seems that as well as armed robbery, arson and protection rackets, they had a nice sideline in commercial fraud. Leslie "the Brain" Payne specialised in so-called "long firm" scams, setting up business ventures, buying stock on trade credit then suddenly folding the enterprise and absconding with the loot. The Krays had become convinced (correctly, as it turned out) that he was about t...

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